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Expanding Comfrey—Making Cuttings

 
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Hi all,

I currently have 6 comfrey plants about 3 years old.  They are doing very well and I would like to expand them by adding 4-6 additional comfrey plants.  My thoughts are to take the healthiest looking one, get a narrow spade and slice off a corner to get some roots.  Then I will take the 4-6 best looking root pieces and drop them in the ground in their intended spots.

After I get the comfrey plants n the ground I intend to pile a bunch of woodchips—both new and inoculated to get the new plants off to a good start.

In the hole where took the comfrey I plan to drop some homemade mushroom compost in to serve as a nice, fertile replacement for any soil removed, hopefully with even better “soil.”

So does this sound about right?  I have never retrieved comfrey roots before so I am open to suggestions, but from what I have heard, I am probably overthinking things.

Thanks in advance,

Eric
 
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Eric, I may be in the minority, but I do it completely opposite. I dig the crown out and leave roots in place in the intact soil. I plant the crown where I want comfrey. The crown has a much better survival rate than cuttings due to the stored energy. The roots resprout readily and are ready to do it again in a couple years. When I dig out the crown I replace the lost soil with some chips as you have said.

The new comfrey location in my experience just has to have some drainage (standing water will kill a transplant) and a little compost.
 
Eric Hanson
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TJ,

Thanks for the input, good to know!!

Eric
 
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I've had poor luck with getting root cuttings going, but when I've had comfrey in pots & didn't plant it before the roots went through the drainage holes into the ground, I've had it come up from the roots that got broken off underground when I moved the pot.
This observation inspired me to try something similar to TJ's method. I made, what I call, a "comfrey tractor." Essentially, I just put a plant in a recycled, plastic, milk  crate; and set it on the ground where I want a comfrey plant. Theoretically, the roots will grow through the bottom of the crate, and will break off in the ground when I lift the crate; allowing for a new plant to come up in that spot.
We shall see how it works out...
IMG_20200112_151725.jpg
Comfrey tractor
Comfrey tractor
 
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I normally dig the whole center and then separate into crown pieces and root sections....then just plant them all!  You will always have enough root left around the place you dug for the plant to come back strong..
 
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I've done it either way, and as far as I can tell, everything works. The way that works best for me if I want new plants as quickly as possible without seeing the old one back as much is to take a spade, put it right in the center, and split the plant. Then I turn the spade 90 degrees and split the two halves. Pull out three quarters of the plant, and plant those three elsewhere. Fill the hole around the original with compost if you have it, or plain soil if you don't.

If I want as many new plants as possible, I pry the whole plant out with a garden fork to get as much of the root system as possible. You won't get it all, so new plants will come up in a number of places in the original spot. Then i chop the plant i yanked out into pieces an inch or two long, and plant each piece of root. I've made 70 or 80 new plants at once this way. I've never counted exactly how many have come up, but definitely more than 95 percent. This spring I can take pictures of a huge ring of comfrey I made in my food forest from one plant.
 
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Yes, so many ways of doing it, and they pretty much all work just fine.  Lots of the fun is experimenting with different ways, observing the results, and sharing with other "addicts".  Please do share photos of the ring of comfrey.
Thank you!

Trace Oswald wrote: I've done it either way, and as far as I can tell, everything works. The way that works best for me if I want new plants as quickly as possible without seeing the old one back as much is to take a spade, put it right in the center, and split the plant. Then I turn the spade 90 degrees and split the two halves. Pull out three quarters of the plant, and plant those three elsewhere. Fill the hole around the original with compost if you have it, or plain soil if you don't.

If I want as many new plants as possible, I pry the whole plant out with a garden fork to get as much of the root system as possible. You won't get it all, so new plants will come up in a number of places in the original spot. Then i chop the plant i yanked out into pieces an inch or two long, and plant each piece of root. I've made 70 or 80 new plants at once this way. I've never counted exactly how many have come up, but definitely more than 95 percent. This spring I can take pictures of a huge ring of comfrey I made in my food forest from one plant.

 
Kc Simmons
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Kc Simmons wrote:I've had poor luck with getting root cuttings going, but when I've had comfrey in pots & didn't plant it before the roots went through the drainage holes into the ground, I've had it come up from the roots that got broken off underground when I moved the pot.
This observation inspired me to try something similar to TJ's method. I made, what I call, a "comfrey tractor." Essentially, I just put a plant in a recycled, plastic, milk  crate; and set it on the ground where I want a comfrey plant. Theoretically, the roots will grow through the bottom of the crate, and will break off in the ground when I lift the crate; allowing for a new plant to come up in that spot.
We shall see how it works out...



My statement about having poor luck with root cuttings was, apparently, a bit premature. When I brought the comfrey plant in my "tractor" from the old house to the new one, last winter, I took all of the broken roots & roots too long to fit in the crate & planted them in random places. I figured I did it wrong because nothing came up all winter, despite temps being in the 60s-70s from Dec on (the established plants never went dormant). Maybe they care about the day length, or want it warmer, because several plants started popping up in different places once the time changed & temps got closer to 80° in March. I don't even remember where I planted half of them, so it's a nice surprise to check out a bed & see a comfrey plant growing as a future mulch source. I suspect there are others in the yard & pasture I planted but haven't discovered yet due to the winter weeds peaking & the summer weeds taking over. It's a nice (and much needed) little boost of confidence for me.
 
Kc Simmons
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Also, since this thread is about propagation, have any of y'all had success with rooting stem cuttings or pre-flower stalks? I thought I read a thread about it on here, but maybe I'm just imagining it since I can't find it now.

I think I want to surround the spot where my forest & kitchen gardens are located, in an effort to create a dense, shady barrier in hopes of encouraging the bermuda grass to spread in another direction.

A few days ago I took a couple of stem cuttings, cut off/down the biggest leaves, and put in one of my propagation totes. Currently, none have wilted & died, but I'm wondering if it's even possible to root stems. Google has just shown results of root cuttings, but none of my existing plants are large/vigorous enough, yet, to take roots from; however I'm hoping to take advantage of the pleasant weather and adequate moisture of spring to get the barrier going.
Any advice is appreciated!
 
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Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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